The International Writers Magazine

‘Evita’ - Directed by Alan Parker
Screenplay by Alan Parker (based on the stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice)
Cast: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Jimmy Nail, Andrea Corr
Suzannah Brooksbank

"It is our sad duty to inform the people of the Republic that Eva Perón, the Spiritual Leader of the Nation, died at 8:25 P.M."

Evita, the film based on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s stage musical is a representation of the life of Maria Eva Duarte de Peron. It is also an insight into the political system and social class issues of Argentina (and the rest of the world) from 1945 to 1952. Eva Duarte married a Soldier and rising political figure, Juan Peron. She was one of the key campaigners for his cause (to liberate the working people from a suppressive government) and was instrumental in getting him elected President of Argentina. The people of the country adored her because she had come from the same social class as them and could speak to them as an equal.

Eva Duarte was born in Los Toldos, on May 7 1919, into a poor family. She dreamed of being an actress and was constantly dressing up and reading poetry to her family and other less fortunate families than her own. She eventually became a famous actress on the radio and the stage. The film shows her rise to fame in a song showing a succession of lovers and becoming "the ultimate social climber".
The film is not entirely accurate to the true events. For example, Juan Peron and Eva Duarte met at a great festival held at Luna Park Stadium with all benefits destined for the victims of a devastating earthquake. Eva Duarte and Colonel Perón began a relationship which would be socially confirmed at a gala held at the Colón Opera House on July 9 to celebrate Argentina's Independence Day. The film has them meeting at the Independence Day celebrations and beginning their relationship from that night.

Eva (Madonna) is followed throughout the film by the narrator (Antonio Banderas) who appears in the form of a waiter or another person appropriate people to the scene. It is very effective having this familiar character running through commenting on the actions of Eva and filling in the gaps in the plot. He is also not impartial he gives opinions. There is some speculation that he is supposed to represent Che Guevara but there is no firm evidence to support this. It is almost as if he is Eva’s subconscious because as she collapses with illness he collapses in the street after a fight. Their actions almost mirror each other.

The film is very well cast; Madonna and Jonathan Pryce look almost exactly like their real life counterparts. Madonna had obviously put a great deal of work into studying Eva Peron because her gestures are exactly that of the pictures of Eva when she is speaking. The speeches given by Madonna in the film have quotes from the real speeches made by Eva years ago. The script also cleverly incorporates some Spanish into the character’s speech; this is a very effective mode for setting the scene.

The main issue that runs throughout the story of Eva Duarte de Peron is the clash of the classes. She was forbidden from going to her Father’s funeral because he had another family who were middle-class and her mother was not legally married to her Father. The Upper classes did not like her at all when she began her relationship with Juan Peron as demonstrated by the song ‘Dangerous Jane’. This scorn is still poured on her even until she dies. The film portrays this well because the class issue is always in the background of every situation, often in the form of the narrator.

The Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Tim Rice musical combination has again created some truly incredible music. Lloyd-Webber has used many Latino rhythms in the songs. This adds to the setting of the scene, as well as the Spanish speech. Latino rhythms are very infectious so as a watcher you feel like dancing when they do. He generally tends to make the fast numbers feel quite Latin-American and the slow ones less so.

This is very appropriate to the story because Eva has Latin-American roots but as she climbs the social ladder her clothes become more European and so do the songs that she sings. Towards the end of the film there is barely any trace of Latino rhythms, just like it has almost all gone from her. I think that that is emphasised by the fact that the songs are mostly in English.

Evita is a generally accurate but romantic portrayal of the life of Eva Duarte de Peron and the inclusion of music makes it a very enjoyable film to watch despite the serious nature of the story being told.

© Suzannah Brooksbank December 2005

Suzannah is a Creative Arts Major at the University of Portsmouth


© Hackwriters 1999-2005 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.